Osteoarthritis is unfortunately fairly common. It is safe to assume that we all know somebody who suffers from this type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative joint disease, and as the name implies certain joints of the body will wear out or degenerate as we age.
A joint in the body, is where two bones connect. Between the surface of these two bones we have a built in cushion called cartilage. The cartilage helps the bones glide smoothly, and it prevents the two bones from coming in contact with each other. As we age, years of wear and tear start to take their toll and the cartilage breaks down. That means the bones no longer have a smooth surface to glide over and it makes bone-on-bone contact possible. This can make movement of that joint difficult and painful.
When most people find themselves suffering from osteoarthritis they decide to become more sedentary and take it easy. It doesn’t make much sense to keep using a degenerated joint that is not at 100%, right? Or does it?
The problem with limiting movement is two-fold. First, when it comes to strength, mobility, and overall function of your joints/muscles if you don’t use it, you lose it. What kind of impact do you think decreased strength, decreased stability, and decreased mobility have on osteoarthritis? The answer is of course a negative impact. Secondly, lack of physical activity raises the likelihood of weight gain, diabetes, and depression. Do you think weight gain, diabetes, and depression have a positive or negative impact on osteoarthritis? The answer again is a negative impact.
In most cases of osteoarthritis one of the best treatment options is…MOVEMENT! Physical activity can improve joint mobility and function as well as decrease pain.
Most people are under the impression that arthritis is what “old” people get. The truth is one does not simply wake up with arthritis when they receive their medicare card. The pain of arthritis may not manifest itself until later in life, but the habits from your 20s and 30s are a contributing factor. Lifting poorly, running with poor form, being overweight, slouching at the computer all place additional, unnecessary stress on your joints, which causes them to degenerate.
Remember, no matter your age, move well and move often.